Our seasonal round up Autumn Reads for Independent Minds is fueled by a core belief that good writing and good ideas of all kinds make the world go round, giving context to modern life and helping to keep things in a balanced perspective. Since we first began our celebration of independent publishing in February 2015, seasonal newsletters rounding up our exclusive interviews and curated eclectic reads have been emailed to friends in the publishing and media industries in the UK, US and France. All the wonderful feedback received over the years has been sustaining and heartening. For readers who have missed out on our latest activity, here’s a taste of what’s been happening.
“To define is to limit” ― Oscar Wilde
Dandy at Dusk published by Head of Zeus on 5 October, is hailed as a “future classic” by Nicky Haslam, the interior designer and founder of the London-based interior design firm, NH Studio Ltd. Meet the author, Philip Mann, to whom we asked, “Why do you write?” . . . “Because I inexplicably missed out on being a film star.” He writes about Soho Bohemia, in his exclusive guest feature: “For thirty years I hid my fame in taverns“. Our other guest writer this month, freelance writer, journalist and cultural historian C.J. Schüler, writes about all things dandy.
What is la rentrée littéraire? Find out in our Top 5 Reads from France.
Emma, Other Ways of Seeing, (Massot Éditions), based on blogger Emma’s comic strip, gives us a different take on news stories and accepted “truths” – be they on law and order, immigration, feminism, holidays, sexism at work, giving birth, the clitoris – challenges the status quo and questions what liberté, égalité, fraternité really means in France today.
BookBlast® celebrates independent publishing
“I salute you for this very, very good review. Excellent and eloquent. The author and her translator will be grateful for the depth of your reading,” Christopher Maclehose, CEO MacLehose Press, 28/09/2017
The distinguished and brilliant publisher, Christopher Maclehose, has introduced British readers to writers in translation including José Saramago, Haruki Murakami, WG Sebald, and Javier Marías, American authors such as Raymond Carver, Peter Matthiessen and Richard Ford and fiction by Peter Høeg, Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson. His latest coup is the publication of Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes, translated by Frank Wynne. She has authored over fifteen books, including Baise-Moi (Fuck Me), Apocalypse Baby, Bye Bye Blondie, and the autobiographical essay, King Kong Theory. Her new kind of punk feminism is a breath of fresh air. Simone de Beauvoir may have inspired women in the 1950s and 1960s to find freedom and ‘self-empowerment’ but times have changed. Through her writing, Despentes shows how the whole system is in a mess, and the role of women in the world needs to change.
Michel Déon’s Your Father’s Room (Gallic Books) is a bittersweet masterpiece of nuance and atmosphere, confusion and heartache, beautifully translated by Julian Evans. It opens a window on to a lost world of elegant bohemia – that of the Romantic Riviera of The Ballets Russes, Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray and Katherine Mansfield.
A Man of Genius by Janet Todd (Bitter Lemon Press) is seductive and unputdownable. Writers’ relationships, past and present, exert a powerful fascination. Turbulent and dramatic, they invariably create a ripple effect of chaos among family and friends.
In her exclusive interview for BB Diary, we get a teaser of Janet Todd’s new book: “I am interested in solitude, people who are outsiders in some way, not embedded in families and communities, making their own selves. My present novel is about a woman who is a cultural and social loner in the 1940s, someone for whom the war was trauma and excitement and who never adjusted to the post-war world. On my academic side I am still working on Jane Austen’s Sanditon and thinking about Austen’s attitude to and influence on modern notions of Englishness and the heritage industry.“
BookBlast® Celebrates 15 Years of the Children’s Bookshow
The Children’s Bookshow takes children’s authors to meet tens of thousands of children around the UK. It is the brainchild of entrepreneur Siân Williams, interviewed for BB Diary in August: “We work with whoever we think is excellent. I look all the time – not just in the UK but abroad as well. So we find the best writers in the world – the ones who have, say, won the Hans Christian Andersen Award. They agree to come because they like talking to children!”
Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, with illustrations by Jun Takabatake & translated by Cathy Hirano (Gecko Press), is reviewed, along with The Fire Horse by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Osip Mandelstam and Daniil Kharms, illustrated by Lidia Popova, Boris Ender and Vladimir Konashevich & translated by Eugene Ostashevsky (The New York Review Children’s Collection, New York).
The BookBlast® Archive
Zen Buddhism may teach us the importance of living in the present, however the past does matter, since its legacies are in the present. To discover parallels with the world then and now helps us to connect the dots of separate issues and see clearly. Fractured communities and a world in chaos is nothing new. Elton Mayo, the Australian-born psychologist, industrial researcher, organizational theorist, and inventor of the coffee break, made a speech at the New England Conference on National Defense, April 1941. The Descent into Chaos is alarmingly relevant to today.
Bohemian writers and artists first discovered the fishing villages and pueblos blancos of southern Spain in the 1950s. Fast forward to now, and a house in Gaucin can easily set you back 1 million euros or more. Gael Elton Mayo, writer-researcher for the Magnum Photographic Group in Paris, 1950-56, was a free spirit and lived in Spain in the early 1950s, described in her column, Letter from Madrid (Moroccan Courier Dec. 1953) and to a far greater extent in her memoir, The Mad Mosaic.
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